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Planning & Performance Improvement

Ottawa County Brownfield Redevelopment

What is a brownfield?

Brownfields are idle, underutilized, or vacant industrial or commercial properties where redevelopment is hindered or complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. Many contaminated sites sit unused for decades because the cost of clean-up for these sites can be high and uncertain.

Anew Fuel Station in Borculo – This project used EPA Assessment grant funding and TIF to help offset the costs of assessment activities. The project created 12 new jobs and an initial $188,755 increase in taxable value. The station is the first alternative fuel station in the State.

What are the benefits of brownfield redevelopment?

Remediation and redevelopment of brownfields offer many economic and environmental benefits, including:

  • creating jobs
  • expanding tax base
  • revitalizing the economy of local communities
  • remediation of contamination

Fortunately, state and federal funding programs have evolved to assist developers interested in assessing contamination issues on these sites and redeveloping them for productive use.

What is a Brownfield Redevelopment Authority?

Under the Brownfield Redevelopment Act PA 381 of 1996, as amended (Act 381), a municipality may create a Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (BRA) to develop and implement brownfield projects. Any city, village, township, or county may create a BRA. In Ottawa County there are eight local BRAs and the County also has a county-wide BRA with an established Brownfield Plan for redevelopment. A county BRA may be involved with projects on eligible property throughout the county, including in municipalities that have their own BRA. In these cases, the affected municipality must grant their approval for a property in their community to be included in the county brownfield plan.

What resources are available for brownfield redevelopment?

Described below are a number of financial tools that can be used to fund some of the additional costs associated with brownfield redevelopment. Every brownfield project is unique and may or may not be eligible for all of these resources. To learn which resources might be available for your project, please contact the OCBRA at 616.738.4852 or


  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - The Ottawa County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (OCBRA) is sometimes able to secure competitive grant funding to assist with brownfield redevelopment. In 2013 Ottawa County was awarded $400,000 in grant funds to perform environmental assessments of properties that may be contaminated with either hazardous substances or petroleum pollutants. More information about this grant can be found in the Final Report. The OCBRA submitted an application for additional EPA Assessment grant funding in December of 2016 and award announcements will be made in May of 2017.
  • Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) also offers grant and loan programs for brownfield redevelopment projects. More information can be found under the Resource Links below or by contacting Andrea Ryswick, MDEQ Brownfield Coordinator at 616.401.0827 or


Tax increment financing is a common economic development tool that is enabled by a number of statutes under Michigan Law. Brownfield Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is guided by Act 381. TIF allows for the capture of tax revenue generated by the increase in taxable value of a brownfield property that has been redeveloped. That revenue is then used to reimburse the property developer for the costs of certain eligible brownfield redevelopment activities. In order to utilize TIF, a brownfield plan for the subject property must be approved by one or more of the following governmental units: the local municipality, the County, and/or the State. For more information, see the Resource Links below.

Gull Lake Marine Project in Wright Township – This 16 acre redevelopment created 15 new jobs, utilized tax increment financing and EPA Assessment grant funding. Some of the captured taxes will be deposited in the LSRRF.


The OCBRA has a long term goal of establishing a Local Site Remediation Revolving Fund (LSRRF). LSRRFs can be created under Act 381 by using a portion of tax revenue generated by TIF, as set forth in an approved brownfield plan. Currently the County has two TIF plans that are designated to deposit tax revenue into this fund. Once adequate funds are accumulated, those funds can then be used to provide small, low-interest loans to developers in order to assist with the assessment of brownfield properties and other eligible activities. This LSRRF will give the County a much greater ability to attract developers to consider brownfield properties as potential project sites that might otherwise be passed over.

Resource Links